A jury in Middlesex County, New Jersey has ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay $37.3 million to four plaintiffs who developed mesothelioma from the company’s Baby Powder products.
The jury’s decision in New Jersey Superior Court came after two months of testimony which ended with the judge striking J&J’s closing argument.
The judge admonished J&J’s attorney for accusing the plaintiffs’ attorneys of being sinister and fabricating evidence, according to the transcript.
The judge ultimately ruled to strike the closing argument from record.
The trial was one of thousands of lawsuits J&J is facing over its Baby Powder products.
The case at Middlesex County Superior Court was presided over by Judge Ana Viscomi and began on June 23. The jury ruled that the company’s baby powder was contaminated by asbestos and defective. The jury also ruled that the cancer was substantially caused by exposure to the baby powder.
Plaintiff D’Angella McNeill of Fayetteville, North Carolina was awarded $14.7 million. McNeill used J&J’s baby powder from the time she was an infant until she was 21 years of age. She was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 38.
Plaintiffs Douglas and Roslyn Barden were awarded $7.25 million; William and Elizabeth Ronning were awarded $5.9 million; and David and Darlene Ethridge were awarded $9.45 million.
In a statement, J&J said that it would be appealing the decision.
“This trial suffered egregious legal and evidentiary errors, including the inability to present key information to the jury and the striking of our entire closing argument, that required us to move for mistrial on nearly a dozen separate occasions,” said a company spokeswoman.
The spokeswoman also noted that all of the verdicts against J&J have been overturned through the appeals process.
J&J has been facing lawsuits across the country. Customers contend that the company’s baby powder products contained asbestos.
The company maintains that the talc it has used for decades is safe.